After a five-year stretch during which cracking the top-10 somehow turned into a huge struggle each time Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) visited the scenic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor will reluctantly but gladly take Saturday’s sixth-place, lead-lap finish in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Diamond Cellar Classic and move on to the next one – most importantly because they and their No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP for WTR stayed within a point of first place in the championship.
Taylor, the 22-year-old first-year co-driver alongside the veteran Italian Angelelli, qualified on the pole for the second time in as many races and, after seeing his older brother and fellow front-row starter Ricky Taylor slingshot past on the opening lap in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP that won this race last year, maintained his position in the top-three until handing the Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP over to Angelelli 63 minutes into today’s two-hour, 45-minute race.
Typically fast work by the WTR crew returned Angelelli to the track in second only behind the No. 3 8-Star Motorsports Corvette DP of Michael Valiante, whose team elected to short-fill its fuel tank. Ten minutes later, Joao Barbosa in the eventual race-winning No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, and Richard Westbrook, now in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, got by Angelelli to send the Italian back to fourth.
The final flurry of green-flag pit stops began with just over 50 minutes remaining. Angelelli pitted on lap 72 with 49 minutes to go and, after a brief but rare hold-up on pit lane, the No. 10 resumed in seventh place. He picked up one position by race’s end for the final finishing position of sixth.
“Coming here, we wanted to finish the race, get the checkered flag, get the points,” said Angelelli, who co-drove with Taylor to the team’s second victory of the season two weeks ago on the Streets of Belle Isle in downtown Detroit. “This track is all about track position. If you are ahead of people, you stay ahead. If you are behind them, you stay behind. Unfortunately, the key moment of the race was when one of the GT Ferraris pushed me off-line so much, I lost two positions. Basically, that was it, I lost those two positions and there was no recovering from it. The second moment was when I was exiting my pit box on the last stop, the 99 (Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP) just got by me and I was stuck behind him. He was super-slow and I just could not get by him for the rest of the race. That’s really all there is to say about today.”
With the sixth-place finish, Angelelli and Taylor stayed within a point of the championship lead now held by today’s third-place-finishing Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel in the No. 2 Starworks Ford Riley. Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who finished fifth in the No. 99 Corvette DP, are one point back in third. Meanwhile, the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas had major trouble for the second race in a row and finished 11th. The two-time defending series champs fell seven points behind the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP in the team standings and 25 points behind Angelelli and Taylor in the driver championship.
“It was an OK day,” said Taylor, who with his brother Ricky jetted to France immediately after the race to take part in next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. “My stint was OK. We ran third for most of it. I was saving some fuel during the stint, which allowed us to get a few guys on the pit stop. We got back going and were second and Max was able to settle into a rhythm there. We’re not really sure what happened on the final pit stop. Max was able to bring it home sixth. Not a great day, but not bad for the points.”
The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series resumes two weekends hence with the traditional running of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
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